Collaboration and academic work

Ferule and Fescue has a nice meditation up on the nature of scholarly work, and some reflections on how, even if you are writing by yourself, you are being helped out in many significant ways by reviewers and senior mentors.

I have a colleague who is fond of trying to convince us that if coauthored worked should be counted by dividing the number of authors. So if you write with three people, you get 1/3 of journal article.

Of course, he writes by himself.

My report on autism and urban life for the NIH has fifteen co-authors: some from our community partner, some from Keck, an individual from engineering, some folks from Children’s Hospital, and a boatload of my students. It was a large grant, and it had a lot of hands and brains at work on it.

So if I write published articles with just my name on it, would that be an indicator that I am a singular genius working bravely on my very own?

Or would it make me a jerk who takes credit for other people’s work? (Answer:the latter.)